Who consumes the food
Where did food come from?
All our food comes from plants and animals, even huge whales live on huge amount of tiny plankton.
Some shrews eat up to 90 % of their body weight each day. For birds, the hummingbird eats some small insects and bugs but amasingly also eat anywhere between half their body weight and eight times their body weight in a day.
Can we therefore compare creatures with high metabollic rates that require them to feed constantly to others that may eat many times over in weight what the shrew or hummingbird eat.
So are we looking at mass, or what a creature eats relative to every other creature or perhaps what causes the most impact on the planet in terms of draining its resources and effecting sustainability.
I don’t know who or what eats the most as I can’t measure it. Take a panda bear for instance, It will eat for eighteen hours a day then sleep, some creatures do nothing but eat when they are awake.
A blue whale will consume between four and eight tons of krill every day. Whereas the largest of the land mammals, the elephant, consumes between 200kg and 300kg a day.
Caterpillars consume huge amounts when they are building their cocoons, relative to body size, but then very little indeed once they have transformed to moth insects.
Lions can eat up to 40kg of meat in one sitting (about 25% of body mass). A girrafe on the other hand browses tall tress for the leaves and twigs of acacia, mimosa, and wild apricot trees and can consume up to 34kg. However the lion can survive on only 5kg and the giraffe on only 15kg.
The lion maybe will not eat again for four days whereas the giraffe will have to feed again next day. The lion can also go without water for four or five days but the giraffe may be without water for months. Which of these two animals would you say eats the most.
Humans compared to other animals eat very little relative to percentage of body mass but the average person will consume around thirty-five tons in a lifetime.
Most of this human consumption will be foods which have been harvested and processed so the impact on the planet will be much more than say a giraffe eating a select diet from a few trees.
The lion lives 15-18 years in the wild, maybe 30 years in captivity. The giraffe lives for 25 years, a little longer in captivity. Humans can still be around nearing 100 years, but the average life expectancy of the global population is 70 years. So which animal has the greater impact.
It is said that the world’s first 150 year old is alive today (source: Mailonline 6/7/2011). Humans will live much longer than we can even imagine today. There are any number between 300,000 and 1000,000 lions world wide and 200,000 giraffes. Try to compare that against more than 7 billion people in the world, expected to rise to 9.5 billion by the year 2050.
Imagine now, the increase in energy needed to supply that population, fresh water demand will increase by 30%, and people will live even longer. The effects are mind boggling, can the planet take it, who knows. But it’s beginning to look more and more like humans consume the most food and have the largest impact on the planet, if it isn’t quite there yet, it soon will be.
Energy to ship goods around
In the past 100 years, world consumption has grown at a rate unprecedented in human history. YET… In 2004, the UK imported 17,200 tonnes of chocolate-covered wafers and exported 17,600; imported 43,993 tonnes of potatoes whilst exporting 85,652; and imported 25,720 tonnes of milk and cream, only to export 27,125 at the same time.
Despite the lunacy of over-production, and food wastage, about 842 million people in the world do not eat enough to be healthy. That means that one in every eight people on Earth goes to bed hungry each night. A third of all deaths in children under the age of five in developing countries are linked to undernutrition.
“If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” David Pimentel, professor of ecology in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, reported at the July 24-26 meeting of the Canadian Society of Animal Science in Montreal.